All-Abelardo grand concert/Young singers in Black Box/MPO plays OPM at Bel-Air
SUNDRY STROKES - Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - January 26, 2013 - 12:00am

An all-Abelardo concert “Pag-Aala-Ala” (A  Tribute to Nicanor S. Abelardo on His 120th Birthday) will be presented by St. Paul U. Manila College of Music and the Performing Arts on Feb. 5, 6 p.m. at the Fleur-de-lis Theater. Featured will be faculty, alumni and students, with Raul Sunico as guest artist.

College of Music dean Sr. Anunciata Sta. Ana says: “There is a need to revitalize the music of our great masters. The music of Abelardo is hardly performed except by students in conservatories and colleges of music. Celebrating his 120th birthday with his music is a good way of reviving it.”

The concert will include well-known, enduring compositions as well as those seldom rendered. International concertist Sunico will interpret two Abelardo piano pieces. Gina Medina and Dino Decena will play violin solo works with collaborating pianist Mary Anne Espina.

Some of the ageless kundimans and other vocal selections will be interpreted by Ronan Ferrer, Eudenice Palaruan, Thea Perez, Nenen Espina, Elisanta Cortes, Oliver Rodriguez, the St. Paul U. Manila Chorale conducted by Sr. Anunciata, with Mart Anne Espina, Melissa Taqueban and Jenny Joey Medina as assisting artists.

Two compositions will be performed by a chamber group together with violinists Proceso Yusi, Joy Sababan, Marianne Elloso, John Ginon, cellist Felicitas Ronquillo, students, and pianist Jonathan Arevalo Coo. Priscilla de la Fuente-Ronquillo, pianist, will also perform. Incidentally she, Sunico and Sr. Anunciata are close relatives of Abelardo.

The revered composer, after whom the CCP and UP Theaters are named, was born on Feb. 7, 1893 in San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan. He is especially known for his re-definition of the kundiman, lifting the genre to art-song status. He died on March 21, 1934, leaving more than 140 works.

This excerpt from the Dictionary of Philippine Biography will inspire Filipino musicians to bring to life Abelardo’s immortal works: Writers and critics, in reviewing Abelardo’s compositions, noted: “He was a romanticist, a classicist, a follower of Beethoven, Chopin and Wagner although his later works showed the imprint of modern tendencies, or a blending of the old and the new idealism.”

For his part, composer  Antonio J. Molina observed: “Abelardo’s works appeal to our emotion. His style is vigorous, brave, vital and mature. Later on, Abelardo’s music has rigid, asymmetrical melodies, heavy and uncouth chords of Stravinsky, and of some ultra-modern composers.”

Abelardo was among the few composers of his time who felt in the native airs the achievement of realism, a possible Philippine contribution to world music, a source Abelardo attempted to exploit fully in his works using foreign forms and patterns in his creations. He was also highly conscious of the wealth of native elements that were waiting for the artist’s hand to transmute into more subtle expression.

But it was his kundimans that raised local compositions to a different plain and height, to a new world of contemplative delight. He once said “a kundiman is a song set to words, a song in which a lover declares his love to a lady and his admiration for her, and throughout the song expressing his utmost acceptance of her wishes. “For he was a great lover and a perfect lover as husband. And he deeply appreciated the love of his friends, moving him profoundly and motivating him in his kundimans: e.g., Nasan ka Irog?, and Pahimakas which are pervasively appealing and will probably endure with Ikaw Rin, Nasaan ang Aking Puso?, Kung Hindi Man, Kundiman nang Luha, and Bituing Marikit.

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The Philippine Opera Co., after its vastly successful “Bagong Harana” concerts, had its young talents undergo a “Black Box” experience, performing challenging vocal exercises to hone their skills. Afterwards, the POC under artistic director Soprano Karla Gutierrez and artist-in-residence mezzo-soprano Clarissa Ocampo presented, as part of its Young Artists Series, “A Little Night of Opera” wherein the guests witnessed the promising artists re-enacting operatic scenes after being mentored by established theater directors, and singing musical theater pieces now regarded classical.

Performers included Al Gatmaitan, Chris Go, Charley Magalit, Kuya Manzano, Gabrielle Panlilio, Alex Reyes, Nazer Salcedo, Janine Santos, Keith Segura, Camille Tecson, and The Opera Belles (Lara Maigue, Lena McKenzie and Rica Laguardia), with the special participation of noted baritone Nomer Son. Pianists were Kobi Maceda and Karl Estudillo. Venue was the Opera Haus in Makati.

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The Manila Philharmonic Orchestra under Prof. Rodel Colmenar will play Filipino compositions on Feb. 2, 7:30 p.m, with Anna Fegi, mezzo soprano, as guest artist.

The event is being sponsored by Barangay Bel-Air jointly with the Salcedo Community and presented at the Jaime Velasquez Park, Salcedo Village.  The public is invited to the free concert.

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